Frank Lampard has admitted that Edouard Mendy has already usurped Kepa Arrizabalaga as Chelsea’s No 1, weeks after claiming his new signing was there just to provide competition for the goalkeeper’s position.
Lampard had previously suggested the £22million arrival of Mendy from Rennes would take the heat off the error-prone Kepa, but he has changed his mind after the former’s solid performance in Chelsea’s goalless draw against Sevilla.
Asked if Mendy was now first choice, Lampard said: ‘At the moment yes, he’s shown his quality.
‘The way he’s played, he’s played very well, that’s two clean sheets for him already.
‘As it stands he is [first choice] but that’s always up for grabs. But the way he’s playing I’m very happy.’
Of the point and clean sheet against the reigning Europa League champions Sevilla, he said: ‘Seville are a top team in European football, no doubt.
‘The concentration and focus to get the result was big from the team. We made a lot of good decisions tonight, so it’s a really nice place for us to build from.
‘I think it’s a positive result. The clean sheet was a big deal for us.’
Mendy was key in Chelsea’s first goalless draw under Lampard despite suffering a thigh injury on international duty, his saves crucial in keeping Sevilla out in the Group E opener.
The calmness in the Blues’ backline was in stark contrast to their chaotic 3-3 draw with Southampton on Saturday, when Kepa made yet another mistake for Che Adams’s comical goal which cast further doubt on the Spaniard’s future at the club.
Prior to the similarly madcap 3-3 draw against West Brom which Willy Caballero started, Lampard said there would be healthy competition between the three keepers at the club following Mendy’s arrival.
He said: ‘We know we’ve had problems in the goalkeeping area in the first two games of the season and at times last year.
‘We can be very honest and open about that – and Kepa himself – in that search for the best performance levels. Mendy comes in to be competition in that area.
‘Mendy’s just come into the club and now it’s about how we move forward and trying to get that performance level as best as it can be.
‘It will be very important for the make-up of the goalkeepers at the club that the level is competitive and supportive.’
Chelsea have bizarrely named retired No 1 Petr Cech in their Premier League squad in the event of a coronavirus emergency, five years after he last made an appearance for the Blues.
Lampard said: ‘It’s definitely not done for the romance, Pete enjoys the training, that’s how he is.
‘With Pete it’s something I wouldn’t expect to happen but with how fit he is if we were in crisis we couldn’t have anyone better than Petr Cech around.
‘He trains every day, and that can only help the goalkeepers we have, to have one of the best in the recent modern era training with them.’